Sunday, May 14, 2023

NASA's Skylab: America's First Space Station (1973-1974)

NASA's Skylab: America's First Space Station (1973-1974)

America's First Space Station
NASA's Skylab as photographed by its departing final crew in February 1974.

Skylab's General Characteristics

The program's nine prime crewmen, selected for the three manned Skylab missions, are pictured with an artist's concept of a completely deployed cluster of the Skylab components in Earth orbit.
Skylab Crew 1: Charles Conrad Jr., commander; Joseph P. Kerwin, science pilot; and Paul J. Weitz, pilot.
Skylab Crew 2: Alan L. Bean, commander; Owen K. Garriot, science pilot; and Jack R. Lousma, pilot. 
Skylab Crew 3: Gerald P. Carr, commander; Edward G. Gibson, science pilot; and William R. Pogue, pilot.
Official emblem for the NASA's Skylab Program

Skylab I Mission emblem

Skylab II Mission emblem

Skylab III Mission emblem

NASA's Skylab as photographed by its departing final crew in February 1974.

50th Anniversary: Skylab was a U.S. space station adapted from the third stage of a Saturn V rocket and launched into orbit in May 1973. It was operated by three separate three-astronaut crews. Major operations included an orbital workshop, a solar observatory, Earth observation, and hundreds of experiments. The longest mission, which ended in February 1974, lasted almost three months. 

The launch of Skylab, America's first space station, on board a modified Saturn V rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 14, 1973, marked a new phase for American's human space flight program. Americans would stay in space for longer periods, conducting complex scientific experiments in the unique space environment. The civilian space program was operating at a time when U.S. budgets were fiscally constrained, so NASA's leaders searched for an affordable way to build a space station. They came up with the idea of turning part of a Saturn V rocket into a space station, and the Skylab concept was born.

Skylab fulfilled the dreams of Dr. Wernher von Braun who had long wanted to build an orbiting outpost where people learn could how to live and work in space for longer periods. Von Braun and his team came up with the idea of using parts of an existing Saturn V rocket to make an orbital laboratory. Turning a rocket into a laboratory was not easy, but it was an affordable way to build a space station because existing hardware could be used.

Unable to be re-boosted by the Space Shuttle, which was not ready until 1981, Skylab's orbit eventually decayed, and it disintegrated in the Earth's atmosphere on July 11, 1979, scattering debris across the Indian Ocean and Western Australia.

Learn more about Skylab:

Image & Caption Credit: NASA

Release Date: May 12, 2023

#NASA #Space #Astronomy #Science #History #Skylab #Astronauts #MicrogravityResearch #SpaceLaboratory #SpaceStation #HumanSpaceflight #SaturnVRocket #Technology #Engineering #WernhervonBraun #UnitedStates #Illustration #Infographics #STEM #Education

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